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Shield against dodgy dotcoms

Body formed for all-out action

Order on interim board to oversee Evaly affairs next week

FE REPORT | October 14, 2021 00:00:00

The cabinet division has formed a high-powered panel to take a clean-up drive with a twin goal of safeguarding customers and disciplining errant e-commerce portals.

An office order to this effect was issued on Wednesday, aiming to bring the crisis-ridden e-commerce sector under its scanner.

The 15-member committee will ensure communication between ministries, divisions and state agencies involved in e-commerce issues under a digital platform and interoperability system.

It has been assigned to ensure that e-commerce platforms get registered and licensed, and are brought under the VAT and tax net.

The panel will collect all transactions and wealth information of controversial as well as disputed dot-coms and the status of their banking transactions.

It will take next course of action to protect the customers hit by an array of scams in recent times.

The committee will also devise necessary future tools to control, supervise and monitor of e-commerce firms.

The panel must be submitted a report to the cabinet division within the next one month.

The new committee has representatives from cabinet division, ICT division, financial institutions division, central bank, police headquarters, DGFI, NSI, SB and CID, financial intelligence unit, NBR, national telecommunication monitoring centre, consumers association and commerce ministry.

A multi-party committee, formed by commerce ministry, is also working to establish rules in e-commerce business.

Some ministers initially suggested passing a new law and forming a regulator for the sector, but commerce ministry stepped away from the initiatives.

Meanwhile, the High Court will pass an order next week on the formation of an interim body to oversee business affairs and management of the disputed e-commerce portal Evaly.

The bench of Justice Muhammad Khurshid Alam Sarkar deferred the date for the order on Wednesday.

Earlier in the day, commerce ministry proposed that the HC pick one from the names of three former secretaries it placed for the four-member panel.

The court order will follow a review of the background of the proposed persons for inclusion in the body.

The trio are ex-land secretary Md Maksudur Rahman Patwary, ex-local government secretary Md Rezaul Ahsan and Land Reform Board's ex-chairman Yakub Ali Patwary.

The court earlier said a chartered accountant, a lawyer, an ex-secretary and an ex-judge would sit on the panel.

It also asked commerce ministry to propose names of three secretaries to choose one from them.

Accordingly, lawyer Tapas Kanti Baul placed the names in the court on behalf of the ministry on Wednesday.

Following a petition by an Evaly customer, the same bench on September 22 directed the authorities concerned not to sell or transfer Evaly assets until the disposal of this case.

On September 30, the bench asked the Registrar of Joint Stock of Companies and Firms (RJSC) to submit all records of Evaly on October 12 to the court.

The RJSC sent the papers accordingly.

Md Farhad Hossen filed the petition under the Companies Act-1994, seeking directives to wind up Evaly and distribute net asset cash fund among creditors.

He also sought a court order to direct the respondents to restrain or prohibit Evaly from selling, transferring or disposing of its assets.

Mr Hossen also made a plea for formation of a board of directors to take control of the e-commerce entity's management and company affairs.

But the court said the prayer for a board would be considered after the appearance of the respondents.

Barristers AM Masum and Syed Mahsib Hossain appeared in the court on behalf of the petitioner.

According to the petition, Mr Hossen gave payment through mobile financial services bKash and Nagad last May to purchase products worth Tk 33,308.

But he has so far failed to get the desired goods despite repeated contacts with the scam-stuck Evaly.

On September 16, another client Arif Baker sued Evaly CEO Mohammad Rassel and chairman Shamima Nasrin with Gulshan police station for not delivering him products despite taking advance payment.

The RAB personnel arrested them from their Mohammadpur residence the same day. They were taken to RAB headquarters and later handed to Gulshan police on September 17 after a briefing.

Mr Rassel and his wife Nasrin are now behind bars in the cases lodged with different police stations.

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